Dogs With Jobs

Tillman the Rose Bowl Parade Star Bulldog

Tillman the Rose Bowl Parade Star Bulldog has starred on Natural Balance Pet Food’s Rose Bowl float in past years as a skateboarder and snowboarder, among others. Today he will star as a surfboarder along with 6 other dogs. As reported on San Jose Mercury News’ website, MercuryNews.com, Tillman will also help set a new Guinness world record for the largest ever and heaviest ever float. Following are some excerpts from the story of the record-setting Tillman, the Rose Bowl Parade Star Bulldog:

…”Nothing like it has ever been done before,” said Joey Herrick, founder and president of Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods, which is sponsoring the float. “It’s a monstrosity.”

Just shy of 120 feet, “Surf’s Up” is about three times longer than the typical float and seven feet longer than the record-setting float Natural Balance sponsored in 2010.

When the California Highway Patrol brings its commercial scales to the Irwindale warehouse where the float is being assembled, designers expect its official weight will top 100,000 pounds. That’s about 8 tons more than the record set by last year’s Natural Balance entry and would earn the company another listing in Guinness World Records….

…Herrick wanted Tillman and his canine companions to really surf &mdaash; to give spectators an eye-popping experience and, perhaps, break the world records set by his earlier projects.

He took his vision to Tim Estes, president of renowned Fiesta Parade Floats, which built and designed the earlier Natural Balance Floats….

…Tillman — a 65-pound bulldog named for the late NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman — and six other specially trained dogs will be placed on surfboards for the one-minute ride down the Plexiglass-lined wave channel. They’ll then clamber aboard miniature woodies mounted on a hidden hydraulic conveyor belt for the ride back to the starting gate

A 3,000-gallon reservoir built under the front of the float allows crews to lower the water level and keep the channel from overflowing when the float has to inch down a slight incline near the start of the parade route.

While Estes devotes himself to the mechanics of the Fiesta floats, he said it’s the sight of seeing his projects finished after months of hard work that gives him the most satisfaction.

“It’s a year’s timeframe come to life,” said Estes, crediting the creativity of Jim Hynd, Fiesta’s vice president and floral director. “The flowers are what makes all the difference.”

On Wednesday, as Fiesta crews put the finishing touches on the skeleton of the oversize float, teenage volunteers painted on sweet-smelling craft glue and covered every exposed surface with seeds, herbs and other natural materials.

“It’s a feeling of accomplishment,” said volunteer Evangeline Bailor, 17, of Arroyo, bringing a clown fish to life with lentils, sweet rice and onion seed….

…Tillman the bulldog was also prowling around the Irwindale warehouse, whining in anticipation of the day the float will be filled with water and he’ll be allowed to surf….

Most years I watch the Rose Parade, and I’ll definitely be watching for Tillman, the Rose Bowl Parade Star Bulldog in today’s version. Read the complete story here.

Have you ever used a dog in a local parade, or perhaps a homecoming parade? If so, please share with our readers below.


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